The Lone Soldier
It’s a new day, and another adventure. Facebook once again brought another special person into my life, Adrianne Bernstein. Nearly two years ago Adrianne found me on FB, since then we have become close friends, really it’s more like sisters. Through Adrianne, I have met more wonderful people , like Ruth and her son Saul Rurka. It was a beautiful day in Israel, my dear friend who I fondly call Ruthie came to spend a couple weeks with me. We were about the meet Ruth, Saul and Adrianne for lunch and learn about Benji Hillman and the home they are building for Lone Soldiers in Ra’anana, Israel.
While having lunch, I began to ask questions about the Lone Soldiers in Israel. A Lone Soldier is one who lives in another country and left to join the Israeli Defense Force and has no family in Israel, or an Israeli soldier who does not have family to support him. This is very hard on the young soldiers who face sometimes very long and brutal days in training with hard weather conditions such as extreme cold and heat. At the end of their day they have no family to return to like many of their fellow soldiers do. So they sit in their lonely quarters on base, till the next day. When shabbat or a holiday arrives, once again these soldiers are alone. Special people like Benji Hillman, who was a Company Commander in the Egoz Reconnaissance Unit in the IDF, took the Lone Soldiers in his unit in. He would bring them home and find others to take them in.
As Ruth and Saul Rurka told us about their Nephew and Cousin, Major Benji Hillman, the sadness in their eyes told us how special this young man was. Sadly, on July 20, 2006 Major Benji Hillman was killed, leading his company in the 2nd Lebanon War. Just one month prior to his death Benji married his long time girlfriend and life seemed so bright. Saul and Ruth took their grief and turned it into action, they decided not to let Benji’s legacy die but instead to build a home for the Lone Soldiers that Benji was passionate about.
The name of the home is Habayit Shel Benji “[Benji’s Home]
Of course as we talked there were many times I was choking back my tears, but poor Ruthie, she could not hold back hers, she felt a very special connection because she has a son in the US Air Force. We finished lunch with laughter, and headed to the site where the home is being built. Saul, Benji’s first cousin, has dedicated his time and energy to this project. As we arrive, we see excitement in his eyes, as the workers have accomplished new tasks. Saul, points out the rooms, that will one day soon be filled with soldiers. There will be 50 rooms and each soldier will have his own private room. Adrianne and some of her sewing friends are making quilts for each bed. Not only will Benji’s House provide a place for soldiers to live while in the Army, but they will have programs to assist them in job training, life skills, counseling and other services. Home cooked meals will be prepared for the soldiers by staff and in the evenings the cupboards and refrigerators will be full for them if they get hungry.
Benji Hillman’s legacy lives on through the help of many people who have generously donated to help bring this home to life. I want to encourage you to get involved also, if we all support a little or a lot, combined great things will happen in the lives of these Lone Soldiers.
One final thought, these soldiers are truly on the front line of terror, they not only protect Israel but they are protecting the world from an enemy whose desire is world domination. Please get involved and let the soldiers know they are not alone. Click here to learn more about Benji’s House